Author: Sam Phillips
Publication: Royal Academy of Arts
Press Date: 6 Sep 2012
Nowhere Less Now, by British artist Lindsay Seers, is the latest major commission by Artangel, the organisation acclaimed for producing groundbreaking contemporary art projects in unlikely places. The venue for her work is the Tin Tabernacle in Kilburn, a nineteenth-century chapel constructed – as were many – from sheets of corrugated iron. For the past 70 years it has been home to Willesden & St Marylebone Sea Cadets and, although an altar area remains for worship, its interior is awash with seafaring paraphernalia from navigation charts and model ships to a large ship’s gun in its centre.
The content of Seers’ project is closely entwined with the Tabernacle and naval history. She has fabricated a large ship’s hull that, upside-down, acts as a secondary chamber within the main building. In this space she shows a video work (of approximately 40 minutes) whose two channels are projects on two circular forms, one concave, one convex. The audio is broadcast through portable headphones for each of the visitors.
The video is part fiction, part fact, and Seers merges the two together with skill, suggesting that there is no division between them. The main thread of the work is a documentary that follows the artist as she discovers more about her great great uncle, George Edwards, who perished while serving in the British navy in Zanzibar.
To describe too much more of the video would spoil things for readers who have yet to see it, but Seers’ personal search is conjoined with a mission to discover ‘the totality of interconnected events’, in the words of a paperback book that accompanies her project. The artist’s family history becomes at one with a philosophical preoccupation to align all things past, present and future in a circular comprehension of time – Masonic practices and African witchcraft; photographic archives and CGI phantasms; post-colonial guilt and ophthalmology. Fireworks of ideas were set off in my head while watching and for hours afterwards.